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"In Their Own Words" Oral History Project

The Ohio Historical Society (OHS), in partnership with the Ohio National Guard (ONG), seeks to preserve the history of Ohio's soldiers and their families through a video oral history project entitled "In Their Own Words".

In previous wars, military personnel communicated with family and friends through letters and airmail that took weeks to deliver and might later be stored for years in attics and closets. Researchers, students and genealogists today rely on these documents to tell the story of Ohio's role in military actions.

In more recent conflicts, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers are communicating much more directly via electronic means that often disappear soon after they are sent. With the temporary nature of cell phone calls and e-mail communications, oral history interviews are one of the only ways to capture these important stories for future generations

One of the strengths of OHS collections is military history; specifically documentary materials from the War of 1812 through WWII. These records (both governmental and private) document Ohio's participation on past wars at the federal, state and local levels and are used by one of every three researchers that visit OHS. We have little on Ohio's role in post-WWII military conflicts. This oral history project with help OHS fill that gap. Digitized video would be of service not only to family, friends and researchers, but for the visually and hearing impaired as well.

Additionally, there is a need for a cost-effective yet standards-based method for digitizing oral histories. In the summer of 2009, OHS conducted a pilot project to evaluate the feasibility of this type of digitization, resulting in the the World War II Oral History Collection, In Their Own Words will develop a more comprehensive method for digitizing oral histories.

The project will:

  • Increase the number of resources available that document Ohio's post-World War II military participation.
  • Develop a replicable model for digitizing oral histories that is cost-effective and adheres to preservation standards.
  • Disseminates procedures for digitizing audiovisual collections to other libraries and cultural heritage organizations interested in creating and digitizing oral histories.

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